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  • - I am Terrell Jermaine Starr,

  • senior reporter with The Root,

  • and I'm here with 2020 presidential candidate, Andrew Yang.

  • - Hey man, thanks for having me, it's great to be here.

  • - Right on, right on.

  • I promise, I will be really kind to you.

  • - Oh good, you know, I got that vibe from you.

  • - Listen, I wanna talk to you

  • about the social media support that you've been getting.

  • We see hashtags like secure the bag and Yang Gang,

  • so tell us, who are the members of the Yang Gang?

  • - So I've been running for president for more than a year,

  • and the name Yang Gang bubbled up a long time ago,

  • and so we've had the Yang Gang

  • as like our official, you know, campaign headquarters

  • for a while, but then what you're talking about

  • is I became something of a social media phenomenon

  • over the last six weeks or so.

  • You know, like, the enthusiasm, I have to say,

  • when I go to college campuses,

  • it seems like it tends to skew young,

  • and very internet-y, like they make a lot of memes.

  • The energy at our rallies is sky high,

  • where we just had a rally of 3000 people

  • at San Francisco and then 1,000 in Chicago.

  • We were joking, it's like man,

  • we can plant the flag in a lot of places,

  • and apparently like hundreds,

  • maybe thousands of people come out.

  • So we're gonna test that out.

  • I'm doing a national tour starting in mid April.

  • But when you see the energy in person,

  • then it makes you very excited

  • about all the enthusiasm online,

  • because it's translating into the real world.

  • It's not just people making memes,

  • it's actually people who wanna

  • come out and make real change.

  • - You talked about how capitalism

  • doesn't center real people and you've called

  • for a more human-centered capitalism.

  • What exactly does that mean?

  • - Capitalism right now, it's become

  • this winner take all economy, particularly in the US.

  • You have this crony capitalism, and like,

  • you know, really wealthy interests just pulling the strings,

  • and then you talk about competition,

  • and a lot of the biggest industries

  • are getting much less competitive.

  • Like, you see consolidation in the big tech companies,

  • you see consolidation in

  • the big banks and financial companies.

  • So we need to start using different measurements

  • to try to drive our economy and society forward,

  • where if you just lose capital efficiency,

  • we're gonna lose more and more

  • to software, robots, AI, and machines.

  • So we should, instead of using GDP and capital efficiency,

  • we should be using things like

  • how our kids are doing, our own mental health

  • and freedom from substance abuse,

  • average income and affordability, clean air and clean water,

  • and then use those as the actual

  • measurements of economic progress.

  • - Everything that you're saying

  • sounds like you're centering people,

  • which to me seems like the antithesis of capitalism itself,

  • and it sounds like you are calling

  • for a reform to capitalism.

  • - We need to evolve as fast as possible,

  • because if you just rely upon capital efficiency,

  • and the example I used in a lot of context is look,

  • there are three and a half million Americans

  • who drive trucks for a living.

  • So in 10 years, if you have

  • trucks that can drive themselves,

  • it doesn't matter if you're a really hardworking,

  • attentive truck driver or a shoddy one.

  • The robots gonna beat both of you, you know what I mean?

  • It's not dependent upon your own individual characteristics.

  • So if we use who can drive the truck better,

  • everyone loses, you know?

  • And so we need to have better measurements

  • than that as fast as possible.

  • I think of it evolving to the next stage of our economy,

  • but I 100% agree that if you just use capital efficiency

  • as a measuring stick, we're all gonna lose.

  • - One of your main goals is to implement

  • what you've called a universal basic income.

  • - The freedom dividend.

  • - [Terrell] Yes, there you go, the freedom dividend.

  • You talk about the humanity of just the GDP.

  • - Yes. - Right.

  • So just tell us exactly what that entails.

  • - Well, so, GDP is something we made up

  • almost 100 years ago during the Great Depression,

  • and I'd like to talk about my wife.

  • My wife's at home with our two boys,

  • one of whom is autistic,

  • and her work every day counts as zero on GDP.

  • So GDP is not measuring the right things.

  • So if we were to measure how our kids are doing

  • and how we're doing, like how we're thriving or not thriving

  • that's actually the measurement

  • for our economy that we need to

  • move towards as fast as possible.

  • And the great thing is, as president,

  • when I'm in the White House in 2021,

  • all I have to do is just walk down the street

  • to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and say

  • hey guys, GDP, almost 100 years old, kind of useless.

  • And so we're gonna update it to things

  • like how our kids are doing, how our environment is doing,

  • how we're doing, like whether we're mentally healthy,

  • because there's a mental health crisis in this country.

  • - You make that sound a lot easier

  • than what many people think it actually will be.

  • - Well, taking the measurements is pretty easy,

  • but then changing the way our economy

  • functions is obviously a little trickier.

  • - Which is the point, right?

  • So how do you plan on working with congress

  • in order to carry that out?

  • Because what you're saying immediately

  • is gonna pop up in people's mind like you're a socialist!

  • And you wanna give people free stuff!

  • Then you're gonna scare the hell out of people.

  • - You know, what I'm happy to say

  • is that millions of Americans are waking up

  • to the reality that we can't use

  • these twentieth century frameworks

  • for problems of 2020 and beyond.

  • It's not like people in, you know, 1914

  • when they're drawing this stuff up

  • were like artificial intelligence,

  • like self driving vehicles.

  • They didn't see a lot of this stuff coming.

  • One thing I'm happy to say is that as president,

  • I actually don't need congress's approval

  • to change the statistics, like that's not

  • a congressional thing, that's like

  • an agency thing, a branch.

  • You literally can just walk down the street

  • and say hey guys, let's use some new stats.

  • - How come no one else has done that?

  • - Well, it's because we've been focused on the wrong things.

  • If you look at the big measurements

  • that we're using for the economy,

  • it's GDP, which is like near a record high,

  • stock market growth, which doesn't affect

  • the bottom 80% of Americans, for the most part,

  • and then headline on employment rate,

  • which even though it looks good right now,

  • there are millions of Americans

  • that have just dropped out of the workforce,

  • including one of out five prime working age American men.

  • So they just have the wrong measurements,

  • and as someone who's done a few things

  • that required you to actually see where you're going,

  • like, if you have the wrong measurements, you're doomed.

  • So I can't speak to why we've been

  • hanging on to this GDP measurement for a hundred years,

  • even though the inventor of GDP

  • even said this is a terrible measurement

  • for national wellbeing, we should never use it as that.

  • - So we need to completely get rid of that,

  • and replace it with something that deals more

  • with how human beings-- - How we're doing, right.

  • And one of the things I said to Breakfast Club

  • in that interview was that

  • the median African American net worth

  • is projected to be zero by 2053,

  • and now you have to ask like why the heck is that?

  • - What does that exactly mean for us?

  • You know, for black people by 2053?

  • What would that look like?

  • - Yeah, so and this is why I'm running for president,

  • why I'm so passionate about our need

  • to really evolve and get our heads out of the sand.

  • So if you look at the five most common jobs

  • in the US economy, and the African American community

  • will like, you know, it'd be occupying many of these jobs.

  • Number one is retail, and 30%

  • of American malls and stores are closing.

  • The average retail worker is a 39 year old woman

  • making between 10 and 11 dollars an hour.

  • So if 30% of those stores close,

  • what happens to those jobs and families?

  • Another top job is customer service and call centers.

  • Artificial intelligence is gonna be able

  • to do the job of that two and a half million

  • call center workers in the United States,

  • who now make 14 bucks an hour.

  • So then what happens to those workers?

  • So these are jobs that are filled

  • by the majority of Americans, including Americans of color,

  • and so then if you're automating away

  • those jobs as fast as possible, which is what we're doing,

  • then who bears the brunt of it?

  • And also who wins?

  • Like, the people who win will be

  • the big tech companies and the folks at the top,

  • and we know those organizations

  • aren't exactly the most, you know,

  • representative of the US population or the most diverse.

  • - Oh, not at all, which goes to the point

  • of closing the racial wealth gap.

  • - Yes.

  • - So how do you specifically plan

  • on addressing this issue, particularly for black people

  • so that the gap that we are experiencing closes before 2053?

  • - Exactly, and that's one reason

  • why I'm so excited about the freedom dividend.

  • Putting a 1000 bucks a month into the hands

  • of every American at age 18, which is what I'm proposing

  • and is what we can make happen in 2021,

  • when I'm president, but this is something

  • that Martin Luther King championed in 1967,

  • the year before he was killed.

  • He was prescient.

  • He saw a lot of things coming, and he said look,

  • we need to actually just move towards

  • putting money into the hands of African American families

  • and consumers and communities and businesses,

  • and this is the way to do it.

  • - How else would you address this gap,

  • particularly giving, you know, particularly

  • creating a plan for black people,

  • not specifically to everybody else?

  • - Well, so there are issues specific

  • to the black community that you need

  • separate plans to try and address.

  • What I'm suggesting is that first,

  • if you start with this 1000 bucks a month

  • in everyone's hands, then that disproportionately helps

  • people that are more excluded.

  • And by the math, it actually does reduce

  • the wealth gap and income inequality.

  • - By how much though?

  • By how much?

  • - It's really significant.

  • Like, you're talking about the single biggest move

  • that would actually close the vast wealth gap

  • that anyone has proposed, is what I'm proposing.

  • And so if you had 12000 per year

  • and imagine you had a household

  • with, like, you know, two adults and an 18 year old,

  • that's 36000 dollars a year in that household,

  • and so it ends up closing the wealth gap

  • very very quickly, and then the great thing is

  • that there is like the effect of all that money

  • circulating in that community,

  • and one thing I've said is that

  • if you wanna strengthen African American owned businesses,

  • you have to get money into the hands